VCU-Oregon Preview

BY foxsports • November 25, 2014

VCU didn't create much havoc on Monday night, at least not for its opponent.

The 14th-ranked Rams will look to bounce back from an uncharacteristic performance and get back to forcing turnovers Tuesday night when they meet Oregon in the Legends Classic consolation game at the Barclays Center in New York.

VCU (3-1) lost 77-53 to No. 12 Villanova in Monday's semifinal, its worst defeat since a 78-53 loss to then-No. 10 Michigan in the third round of the 2013 NCAA tournament. The Rams allowed a 16-0 run early in the second half, were outscored 45-23 over the final 20 minutes and let the Wildcats shoot 58.6 percent from the field.

The Rams only forced nine turnovers after their first three opponents committed 20.0 per game. It marked their fewest turnovers forced since Saint Louis had eight in VCU's 76-62 road loss on Feb. 19, 2013. The Rams fell to 16-17 under Shaka Smart when forcing 12 turnovers or fewer compared to 124-30 when their opponent has at least 13.

"I think we have the team certainly to be competitive in these types of games, but we're not where we need to be yet," said Smart, who is 9-8 in regular-season neutral-site games. "If anything, this is an eye opener to remind us of that."

VCU's 3-point defense was again an issue, with Villanova going 7 for 18. The last three opponents are 23 for 57 from deep (40.4 percent). The Rams limited teams to 30.3 percent 3-point shooting in 2013-14 to finish 19th nationally.

Smart's club also struggled offensively, finishing nearly 40 points below its average the first three games. Treveon Graham - who came in averaging 18.0 points - was held to four on 2-of-9 shooting, including an 0-for-4 mark from beyond the arc.

Seven Rams hit at least one 3-pointer in Thursday's 106-66 win over Maryland Eastern Shore, but they were 2 of 17 from long distance Monday after starting the season 35 for 87.

The Rams' bench was also outscored 36-11 after averaging 35.0 points on 47.4 percent shooting in the first three games. Reserves were a combined 5 for 21 Monday.

Oregon (3-1) committed 14 turnovers in Monday's 70-63 loss to No. 19 Michigan but hasn't been overly mistake-prone with 12.0 per game.

Leading scorer Joseph Young (24.5 ppg) scored a season-low 20, hitting 2 of 9 3-point attempts after starting the season 10 for 25.

"The guys played hard, we just didn't play very smart," coach Dana Altman said. "That's my fault. We didn't run the offense the way we should have."

It's unclear if forward Dwayne Benjamin will play after he exited in the second half with an apparent left ankle injury. Benjamin, who leads Oregon with 9.3 rebounds per game, recorded 11 Monday night to help the Ducks claim a 41-29 advantage on the glass.

Oregon has dropped seven straight regular-season games against Top 25 opponents at neutral settings, while VCU has won 34 of its last 38 regular-season non-conference games against unranked opponents.

Tuesday marks the schools' first meeting.

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